Date of Conferral





Health Services


JaMuir Robinson, PhD


Breastfeeding is the best infant feeding source of nutrition for infants in their early stages of development. However, there is a fundamental gap in the number of African American women that initiate breastfeeding compared to White, Asian, and Hispanic mothers. Social cognitive theory was used to explore the breastfeeding intentions, beliefs, perceived barriers, and perceptions on breastfeeding through a basic qualitative research method. To capture the essence of the lived experiences of African American pregnant women, a purposeful sample of 13 African American pregnant women were invited to participate in the study. Two focus groups discussions pertaining to breastfeeding intentions and perceptions were conducted. Data were collected using hand-written notes and audio-taped responses from participants. The data were analyzed using NVivo12 Plus qualitative software program to discover themes and patterns. The findings resulted in 3 themes and 2 subthemes. The themes that emerged from the responses were (a) breastfeeding is the best feeding option, (b) breastfeeding barriers, and (c) breastfeeding intentions and duration. There was identified support in terms of intentions to initiate breastfeeding immediate postpartum and continuing some breastfeeding through 6 months. Further results include subthemes of encouragement and outside influences and recommended future breastfeeding support. Breastfeeding barriers ranged from previous negative experiences, negative comments and advice from family and friends, perceived lack of milk, and pain. This study contributes to positive social change within the community by providing some insight into possible interventions or approaches to improve breastfeeding intentions and to ultimately improve the lives of infants.